EU mulls Johnson's reluctant Brexit delay request




  • In World
  • 2019-10-20 05:12:45Z
  • By AFP

London (AFP) - EU leaders were on Sunday considering a request by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay Britain's departure from the bloc, which he was forced to make after MPs refused to back his Brexit deal.

Johnson has pinned his premiership on getting Britain out of the European Union on October 31, more than three years after the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit.

But the House of Commons on Saturday refused to support a divorce deal he struck with Brussels last week, triggering a law demanding he ask to delay Brexit to avoid the risk of a damaging "no deal" exit.

The Conservative leader duly sent a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk late Saturday asking for the required three-month delay -- but did not sign it.

He sent a second letter -- signed -- warning that "a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners".

A defiant Johnson had earlier told MPs: "I will not negotiate a delay with the EU."

Tusk said he would begin consulting EU leaders "on how to react" -- a process one diplomat said could take a few days.

Johnson has already spoken to the leaders of France, Germany and the Netherlands to press his case -- and Paris warned Saturday that a Brexit delay was "in nobody's interest".

- Votes loom next week -

In the meantime, Johnson will bring forward legislation that he hopes would nevertheless allow Brexit on October 31.

MPs voted to withhold approval for his divorce deal unless and until the legislation required to ratify the treaty is passed through parliament.

The government is seeking a new vote on its deal on Monday, although this may fall foul of parliamentary procedure.

If it introduces the treaty implementation bill on Monday, however, MPs could be called to vote as early as Tuesday.

Johnson wrote to Tusk that he was "confident" he could get it through before the of the month.

However, the main opposition Labour Party has condemned the deal as a "sell-out", while Johnson's Northern Irish allies are opposed to its arrangements for the province.

- 'House of Fools' -

Johnson sent the letter to Brussels after a day of high drama in the Commons, which staged its first Saturday sitting in 37 years to debate his Brexit deal.

He urged MPs to end years of uncertainty that has weighed on the economy and divided the nation -- but they refused, warning his deal would leave Britain worse off.

"Why won't they let us leave?" lamented the Brexit-backing Sunday Express newspaper.

The Mail on Sunday led with the headline "The House of Fools", warning MPs had "subjected us to yet more agonising delay".

The Brexit date has already been pushed back twice, to the fury of those who wanted to chart their own course and abandon the European project after nearly 50 years.

But there was also jubilation at the vote among tens of thousands of protesters who gathered outside parliament on Saturday to demand a new referendum to reverse Brexit.

"That's really good, that's one step away from Brexit," demonstrator Philip Dobson told AFP.

"Reject Brexit", "Put It To The People" and "Stop This Madness" read some of the placards at the mass march, where many protesters also waved EU flags.

- No deal fears -

Johnson took office in July vowing to leave the EU on October 31 come what may.

But MPs fearful of the risks of a "no deal" departure sought to bind his hands, with a law demanding he delay Brexit if he failed to get an agreement approved by October 19.

The amendment passed Saturday is designed specifically to avoid this scenario.

MPs had feared they might pass the Brexit deal but then get bogged down with the laws needed to implement it, risking Britain accidentally crashing out of the EU at the end of the month.

COMMENTS

More Related News

UK
UK's Johnson hails 'new chapter' as he signs EU divorce deal

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday hailed "a new chapter" in Britain's history as he signed its divorce deal with the EU, clearing another hurdle ahead of the country's departure from the bloc next Friday. Johnson signed the agreement in Downing Street in front of European and British Foreign Office officials who had brought it from Brussels. EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel had put their names to the treaty at a ceremony held behind closed doors in the dead of night.

Pompeo to head to UK ahead of Brexit, then to Ukraine
Pompeo to head to UK ahead of Brexit, then to Ukraine
  • World
  • 2020-01-24 17:30:17Z

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Britain next week to reaffirm the US "special relationship" with the country ahead of its exit from the European Union, the State Department announced Friday. Pompeo will travel to London on January 29, meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to "discuss ways to broaden and deepen trade ties" after Brexit at the end of the month. From there he will head on to Ukraine -- the country at the heart of the ongoing impeachment trial of President Donald Trump who is accused of pressuring his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a White House rival.

Queen gives assent for Britain to leave EU
Queen gives assent for Britain to leave EU
  • World
  • 2020-01-23 15:41:15Z

Queen Elizabeth II gave her formal assent Thursday for Britain to end its decades-long involvement in the European Union and seek a more independent but uncertain future at the end of the month. The head of state's ceremonial approval of the withdrawal legislation allows Britain to leave its closest neighbours and trading partners after years of bickering and three delays. Two top EU officials in Brussels are expected to sign the separation treaty on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson -- the pro-Brexit figurehead of Britain's seismic 2016 referendum -- will put his name on it in the coming days.

UK officials are pushing for a Trump trade deal to be Britain
UK officials are pushing for a Trump trade deal to be Britain's top priority after Brexit
  • World
  • 2020-01-23 14:49:11Z

UK officials want Boris Johnson to strike a rapid Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump.

UK lawmakers remove child-migrants promise from Brexit bill
UK lawmakers remove child-migrants promise from Brexit bill
  • US
  • 2020-01-22 16:47:48Z

British lawmakers have overturned changes to the government's flagship Brexit bill made by Parliament's House of Lords, removing a promise to reunite child refugees with their families in the U.K. As the bill went through its final stages before becoming law, the House of Commons on Wednesday removed five amendments inserted into the Withdrawal Agreement Bill by the unelected upper chamber. Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on Jan. 31.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World